Taking their name from a powerfully-strong and wild beast, Vancouver based Bison b.c. are preparing to stampede onto the metal scene. Their newest release Quiet Earth is due in stores on Sept 30th on Metal blade Records and is a hard, in your face, all out metal record. The band holds nothing back on their second CD and fans of heavy music of all kinds will enjoy this disc. No fluff and no bullshit, this CD straight up cranks. I recently interviewed guitarist and vocalist Dan And who filled me in on the band, their newest record, and life on the road.

Every band has its musical influences. What are some of the other bands and artists that have greatly influenced you guys and your music?
Dan: We all come from severely diverse musical backgrounds and grew up listening to thousands of different bands. We could easily spend days listing every band that has influenced us in some way or another over the years and honestly I’m sure a lot of them would come as a shock to a lot of people. Obviously we all grew up on heavy metal (be it thrash, death, stoner, blues, doom, grind, crossover, power-violence…even funk-metal!) but shit like punk, grunge, hardcore, old (real) emo (late 80’s dischord style), classic rock and old blues-rock is right up there as well. We aren’t the kind of dudes who say they love music but only certain kinds. We all listen to literally every kind of music there is. We all love hip-hop, country (old country!), pop, whatever it is…there’ll be a time when we’re listening to it. Masa is a goddamned jazz saxophonist! He rules!

The name of the band Bison b.c. is interesting to say the least and sounds as if there is a story behind it. Where did the name come from and what is the story? What was the reason you changed from the original name of Bison?
Dan: We initially were kicking around a ton of names for what seemed like weeks and weeks on end. Bison was a name that I brought up that we just seemed to keep coming back to. We were obviously aware of how many animal bands are out there but after we started writing songs it just seemed to fit what we were doing and at the time we couldn’t find any other bands with that name. The fact that there may be a surplus of bands out there with animal name is the least of our concerns. As with any trend in any sort of music, really who gives a fuck? Time will separate the fucking bands that care more about their image and name than they do about honest music and getting rad, plus it just sounds fucking heavy.

It was months later that we found out that not only was there another Bison from Vancouver who had been broken up for years but also found out about some other Bison’s around the world. Basically we decided to cover our asses before any kind of shit hit any kind of fan. Even fucking Nirvana had to deal with some fucks trying to make a quick buck off of the fact that they had the same name…can you imagine if the Subhumans sued each other? Give me a break. The ‘B.C.’ itself we decided on because it can be interpreted in a bunch of different ways. Sure, we’re from British Columbia and yes, the connotation of Before Christ adds a certain epic-ness to it all but we really like to think of it as meaning Brutally Crucial…or Brutes Cruesh. It’s totally open to whatever anyone may want to put into it.

Your brand new CD titled Quiet Earth is set for release on Sept 30th; now that it is complete how do you feel about it? Are you satisfied with the outcome?
Dan: We went back to the Hive studios with Jesse Gander again (as we did with Earthbound) for a reason. We’ve known Jesse for years and are so comfortable working with him that we wanted to get back together with him to see what else he could do. He literally is a wizard in the studio, there’s a reason we call him Jesse Gandolf. We trust his opinions and input so much that despite the fact that we were stretching out a bit in terms of how long we were gonna take on the new record, we were totally confident in his mad skills. Plus absolutely everyone that works at the Hive fucking rules. It supes hard and you will never feel so chill in a studio ever.

What was the writing process like for this CD? Did you guys all write together? How long did it take?
Dan: We pretty much started working on new songs right after we finished Earthbound. Even at the final crunch time before going into the studio, there really wasn’t any specific thought or feeling like we had to write a song just for the sake of filling an album. There were some riffs that hadn’t been fully developed into songs until the zero hour but there wasn’t anything that went onto the album half-assed. Some of these songs we’ve been playing live for almost a year, others we were still writing while we were in the studio.

James and I might write the guitar riffs themselves but everyone throws their opinions into it. Sometimes we’ll bring entire songs to the table but sometimes it’s just a bunch of riffs that we all arrange together. James is an absolute riff machine and I tend to take a lot more time with each song I contribute. The song “Wendigo 2” was one I had been trying to nail down for over a year and all it took to pound it out was a couple hours in our jam space with Masa. There have even been songs that we thought were complete and had been playing for months and all of a sudden someone will think up some kind of alteration or new part that for most cases will improve it and we’ll go with it.

Give us some insight into the record Quiet Earth and the meaning behind its title?
Dan: It’s really not a concept album in terms of the songs but the album art has been following a certain story. The idea basically is that there is this race of bison warrior type creatures that have their own home world and set out to discover and overtake other planets to expand their empire. ‘Earthbound’ referred to them deciding that our planet was perhaps a suitable planet for the taking and beginning their trek to destroy us and the cover art was a depiction of their home world with ours in the background…in their sights. The new album art is showing their ship (very reminiscent of an old Viking ship) traveling through space on their way to begin their siege. The idea of a ‘Quiet Earth’ makes me think of some kind of foreshadowing of an approaching war. The eerie quiet that follows the attack of the bison warriors. The calm before the storm. Both covers were done by our tight bro Mike Payette (or Mapee who played with James in S.T.R.E.E.T.S. and just so happens to also be a rad artist).

The concept of post apocalypticism and the resulting mixture of ancient-future is an idea that I have found fascinating ever since I was a kid. A dope example would be He-Man and the meeting of swords and lasers or Mad Max. The thought of a society having it all and then losing it due to their own arrogance and having to resort to primitive ways while still retaining certain aspects of advanced technology. It really speaks volumes as to how our society works and how comfortable we have become with our lives while it seems as though there is truly an impending doom looming just beyond the horizon. Who knows, maybe the next album will show the war or who ended up coming out victorious in the end.

What is the hardest part about being in a touring metal band and what is the biggest obstacle your band faces?
Dan: The biggest obstacle is just being a ‘metal’ band. There seems to be a sudden huge burst in interest in heavy music but it’s still the kind of music that you can’t fake. As with any genre of music there will always be chunks of time when young kids might get into it for the wrong reasons. Just like punk or hardcore (or whatever) before, there will always be people getting into it because they think it’s cool but this has always been the realm of losers and outcast and in the end will always end up being that. None of us got into metal or punk because it was cool. No fucking way. We got into it because we weren’t interested in being like everyone else and were fucking sick of being shit on by the douche bags of the world. Metal and punk told the world to fuck off in the way that we always wanted to. We got into this music because no one else wanted anything to do with us and we made a place where we could all be accepted. It really pisses me off to see so-called ‘metal’ or ‘punk’ bands acting like the same fucking asshole jocks I was trying to get away from years ago. We’re fucking losers just like anyone else and that bullshit tough-guy; boys’ club attitude doesn’t belong anywhere near us. I guess the biggest obstacle we face is that just because we might be a heavy band that some people may feel too intimidated to come out and get rad with us. Don’t worry dudes or dudettes, short, fat, tall, skinny…let’s get fucking rad cuz we got your fucking backs.

What can fans expect when they pick up a copy of Quiet Earth?
Dan: It’s hard to say from an insider point of view. Hopefully there’s something for everyone. Some fast shit, some slow shit, a bunch of riffs, some guitar harmonies, a few solos. I might love the idea of keeping this music fucking evil to scare away the fakes (and despite my love of brutal grind and power-violence) but there will always be something to be said for a riff that can make anyone bang their head. How many of us first got into Sabbath because of our parents anyway (even if your mom bought Volume 4 just for ‘Changes’)? We could try to ‘out brutal’ each other all day long but it gets to a point where it just becomes a total caricature of itself. Just look at Norwegian black metal. Then compare that to the last two Melvin’s records, which after 25 years, are up there with their best material ever and because they are so basic in their complexities come off as some of the heaviest shit they’ve ever done.

All I really hope is that people who are into it for the right reasons can tell that we actually give a fuck about these tunes. We’re just a bunch of goofs who love to bang our heads, no matter what’s playing.

When you are on the road for a while I am sure you see and experience many different things you might not even have known existed. Are there any stories that stand out in your mind as being exceptionally strange or odd?
Dan: We haven’t picked up any phantom hitch hikers or anything but we’ve certainly met some odd folks. I still don’t understand the rural Oregon accent but I love that State. Getting to mosh into huge waves in San Diego with our bros Tony and Tori ruled. Up here in Van we don’t really get waves in the slightest and finally overcoming my lifelong fear of being attacked by a shark while swimming was a pretty big deal.

We tried to camp at this man made lake in California called the Salton Sea once. It’s this salt water lake that’s been around for over a hundred years but was once part of a plan to create some kind of rich, vacation related oasis type of resort. At any rate it turns out that due to the insanely high mineral content of the water nothing can actually survive in it and as such resulted in its own doom. We showed up in the middle of the night in the scorching desert heat so stoked to have a swim before bed only to discover a beach entirely covered in fish bones and a shore line covered in dead fish carcasses. We ended up booking it to Joshua Tree National Park and got wasted with some bunnies and Gram Parsons’ ghost. Awesome.

When you are out on the road anything can happen and often does. Can you think of any disastrous events that happened while out on tour? How did you solve the problem?
Dan: We’ve been fucking lucky so far in terms of avoiding disastrous events. We’ve known a lot of peeps who haven’t been quite so lucky and have narrowly avoided some serious shit. We’re just glad that we haven’t lost anyone we love while they’ve been on the road. It seems like we may have a horse shoe up our asses but we’ve all been on tours over the years that have been horrible. Is it wrong to feel like we’ve finally earned having some tours that actually are without disaster?

Personally, my first tour (as a 17 year old kid) involved such unthinkable events as a fellow band member’s brother’s death the same day as our van broke down in Phoenix in late August. Somehow in 120 degree weather, he convinced us that we should finish the tour because it’s what his brother would have wanted. We ended up not only getting the van fixed but also finishing the tour by playing our last show and then all going to his brother’s funeral. I will never forget how surprised and grateful his parents were to see us all there to support our friend and his family despite how haggard we were.

I swear our van itself has a great deal to play in our safety. It’s been around forever and has changed hands many times. It’s a ’91 GMC RALLY STX and it’s belonged to and been used by many bands over the years. It’s only got one bench with a loft and our gear (somehow) all fits underneath it. It’s already got over 350,000 clicks on it so obviously we’re gonna have to eventually replace it but for the mean time it’s a work horse. I honestly think that the key to van safety is the distance between the back of it and the rear axle. There are so many Ford extended cabs out there that I’ve heard about flipping over because the rear axle is too far forward from the main weight load. It’s not something many people think about but if the majority of the weight is sitting too far behind the rear axle it’s gonna lift the front of the van and fuck with the stability. I swear every van I’ve heard about flipping over was an extended cab van with the axle too far forward.

Also you gotta make sure the fluids are all topped up at all times. Don’t let it get dry, and listen to it, It’ll tell ya when it ain’t stoked.

We have all heard the stories about back stage antics and groupies. Is there any truth to those stories and if so do you have any outrageous stories or tales that you would care to share?
Dan: I’m sure there are a ton of bands that put themselves in the position of treating people like they should feel honored to have bands pay attention to them but we aren’t one of them. Back stage is just us getting wasted with our friends and having a rad time. Sure we’ve been escorted out of a hotel by the RCMP at 5 in the morning onto the snowy streets of Whistler but it’s not like we’re the Eagles or anything. We’re idiots and sometimes we may party a little harder than we should but it ain’t no material for the bio. We just love having a good time and getting to bro down with peeps.

How do you maintain that level of energy and exuberance? You sound like you’re ready to go full bore every time you play.
Dan: I guess we try to save it all up for when we play. We aren’t trying to go out of our way to put on a show but we love playing tunes more than anything else and I guess that’s what we try to give. I know that as a kid I could always tell when a band actually gave a shit about playing their tunes by how the carried themselves onstage so that must be where it comes from. There are some super mellow bands out there that still get wild while they play and it stokes me so much that I just want to try to pass that feeling on to peeps. Let’s just forget about all the bullshit in our lives and have a good time. I will never condone bullshit mosh bullying or busting the skull of the kid standing next to you but let’s all have a good time in a way that doesn’t get anyone crushed. If we’re gonna cut loose and get crazy then let’s all do it together and make sure we don’t fuck up any of our friends.

Our jam space is scorching in the summer so the jams get pretty mellow but in the winter it’s cold as fuck so we jam like we play to stay warm. We generally jam with the same enthusiasm we show on stage because we honestly care about what we’re doing. It tends to get a little crazier on stage cuz there is that added energy coming off of our bros and broettes that is impossible to not be affected by.

Along those same lines all of that passion that you play with must be tough on you physically. How do you prepare for the physical demands of a tour?
Dan: Touring is a fucking bizarre thing because you always tend to hit this weird spot where you won’t really feel the same amount of pain you would normally. It’s amazing what the human body can actually endure and there’s no better way to find out how much that is than by going on tour. I’ve always equated it to what someone must feel who works a brutal job like commercial fishing or something like that. My dad was a commercial fisherman for most of my childhood and hearing stories of the shit they went through to catch fish has never left me. Obviously what we do is physically demanding but not nearly as much as a lot of brutal jobs out there. Touring is basically sitting in a van, hungover, for however many hours of the day (with a ton of naps in there too) followed by a quick stint of moving heavy things and then eating dinner. Often it is in the same place you are going to play so just kinda sit there for hours. Maybe you’ll take a walk down the street to buy a red bull or some smokes but otherwise you just sit there. Even if you have been driving for a portion of the day, you’re gonna find that once the actual point of your day (playing) finally arrives, you’re gonna find one way or another to summon as much energy as you possibly can to relieve the tension and frustration through boredom that’s built up over the day. Sometimes that frustration comes from being stuck in a van with the same dudes/dudettes for days and days but hopefully playing can be a mutual catharsis for everyone involved.

Having been on countless tours being broke-ass as fuck and being able to eat nothing but fast food dollar menu shit and also having been on tours where meal ‘buy-outs’ have been available, if possible always go for as much veggies and healthy shit as possible. Take it from experience, party down all you want but drink as much water as you can and eat as many veggies and good shit as can too. It’s hard to eat right when all you see is gas stations and Tim Horton’s, but hitting up a supermarket for some carrots or fruit once in a while will save your ass. Just because Mama Burgers are 2 for 5 bucks doesn’t mean you gotta hit ‘em every chance you get.

What does the future hold for you guys as a band?
Dan: Who knows? As long as we can keep writing and playing riffs that we’re stoked on then that’s all that matters. As long as we’re all still getting along and being bros playing tunes together then I don’t really care.  [ END ]